Submitted by 804Jazz
With the release of his 5th solo album “The Tree of Life”, Bill McGee is celebrating over 50 years as a recording artist, yet he says he feels like he’s 18 years old when he’s in the studio. Bill started his recording career with the HBCU band from Atlanta (Hellaphenalia), who signed with Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records in 1970, and later morphed into (Brick) Bang Records. Bill moved back to Virginia where he was the leader of HBCU band (Trussel) from Virginia State University, Trussel had the hit “Love Injection” in 1979-80, after becoming the first touring band for Evelyn “Champagne” King.
However, he is most recognized for being the lead trumpet on the iconic hip hop hits “Apache” by The Sugarhill Gang and “Freedom” by Grandmaster Flash, while his work with Klymaxx, Joyce “Fenderella” Irby and the O’Jays is also duly noted in his bio. As a music teacher he mentored the father of Neo Soul, D’Angelo, on the way to starting his own hip hop label that spawned Mad Skillz, Danja Mowf and The Supafriendz. Together they recorded the rap version of “Are You That Somebody” with Aaliyah. Frustrated with the direction of hip hop, twenty-one years ago, Bill McGee began pursuing his career as a solo contemporary jazz / jazz-funk-soul artist. He has released four albums which have received accolades and international chart success, including his last single, Cantaloupe and Watermelon (#18/BB and #12/SMJZ), a Herbie Hancock mash-up and Top 20 Billboard hit. Even with his two gold records, past accomplishments and accolades, Bill states he was more excited last year when as an arranger and multi- instrumentalist, he played on his first #1 billboard hit, “Hispanica” by bassist Christian de Mesones, which featured Bob James on piano.
This album “The Tree of Life” symbolizes another phase in Bill’s career as a veteran recording artist. The album is a collection of 11 amazing performances dedicated to the memory of two of his dearest friends who transitioned recently and features some of the industry’s finest recording artists, along with fifty plus (50+) excellent musicians associated with The 804 Music Group.
One of Bill’s favorite songs on the album, “GiGi”, is the name his nine (9) grandchildren call his beautiful wife Wanda. Written by Michael Thierry and Bill McGee, “GiGi” is a feel good record that has a really nice groove. It features drums by T K Johnson (A 2022 Berklee College Graduate) a funky drummer, who some call the next Sheila E., Michael Thierry on keys, Juan Nelson on bass, Ras Mel Glover on guitar (The Wailers), and Risegun Olomidun on percussion. The McGees will be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary July 19, 2023.